Fox updated the popular RP23 air shocks in 2012, introducing the distinctive gold-coloured Kashima coating and Adaptive Logic compression damping. We've been testing this top-tier shock for almost a year and it's easily one of the best shocks we've ever ridden. The benchmark has been set very high.
Unique to Fox, the Kashima coating reduces stiction, the initial resistance to compression movement, in the shock. We noticed the difference immediately. The shock, and therefore the suspension, is a lot more supple and the very early part of the stroke, over small bumps and ripples, is noticeably more sensitive.
Another big change is Adaptive Logic, a three-position low-speed compression adjustment. The ProPedal lever now switches between an adjustable open position with three levels of damping, and a fixed pre-set threshold, set to the highest level of damping control. The three options are numbered '0', '1' and '2', the first being fully open, and when you switch the lever to 3 you get very firm damping.
It's a far more user-friendly design than the previous RP23 shock and makes setting it up for your style of riding much easier, as you have two levels of compression to choose between. Hit the lever to the full compression damping for solid climbing and flick to the open mode, with your choice of damping, for coming back down the hill. A diagram on the shock body clearly designates the lever’s features.
We’ve been testing the RP23 on our long-termer Santa Cruz Tallboy for most of the year. It's been ridden everywhere, from trail centres dotted across the UK to local cross-country rides, some epic all-day rides and even a solo 12-hour race. And it's proven to be absolutely dependable, reliable and smooth operating for every one of those miles. Every time I ride I'm impressed with how smooth the shock is, and it’s stayed that way through the test period – the Kashima coating has lived up to the claims of increased durability.
There's virtually no discernible stiction through the shock’s travel. It slides effortlessly along the shaft, producing an amazingly supple ride feel. It's also more active, and the upshot of this is that traction is increased as the wheel is more closely following the shape of the ground.
We found the '1' setting the best fit for most typical trail riding on the Tallboy. In this setting there's just enough damping control to keep the suspension composed. We rarely used the full '3' compression damping, but it’s still a nice option to have for longer fireroad climbs and road blasts where firming up the suspension helps.
The rebound dial gives a wide and usable range of available with 16 clicks from fully open to fully closed. The dial was redesigned this year and is easier to operate with gloves on, and when making changes on the fly.
Yes it's expensive but the Kashima coating is really worth the money because once you experience the ride quality you'll struggle to go back to a standard shock.
For 2013 Fox has made another update to this shock, introducing CTD (climb, trail, descend) settings. The T option still has three settings, 1, 2 and 3 so you can control the amount of low-speed compression damping for general riding. It's a further clarification of the compression damping settings on this shock and offers the same range of control but aims to remove any confusion about the settings.
Bikes are now shipping with the new shock so we'll hopefully get our hands on one to test. The damping controls aside, the rest of the shock carries through to the 2013 range and as our long-term test of the current shock concluded, it's a high performance and low maintenance shock that has few competitors.
Fox raises the benchmark with an astoundingly silky smooth and well damped shock with a good range of compression damping options.
Adjustable compression damping
UK supplier: Mojo